AS I SEE IT 8/29/2001
In last week's AS I SEE IT, I mentioned the story of CBS, a member
of the Viacom family of networks, which also broadcasts WWF programming on UPN, TNN, and
MTV; having pulled a recent episode of the drama "Family Law", when advertiser
Proctor and Gamble threatened to withdraw advertising from an episode concerning gun
control. They then replaced it with a show about domestic abuse that Procter & Gamble
CBS and Viacom denied that the advertiser had exerted any undue influence on the network. The New York Times report on the situation indicated, however, that 50 percent of the episodes of Family Law from last season failed to make the summer schedule--because of subject matter such as the death penalty, abortion, and interfaith marriage.
It should be noted that Proctor and Gamble are listed by the Parents Television Council as refusing to run advertising on WWF programming; yet routinely advertises on daytime dramatic programming featuring adult themes airing during hours when children can easily view it, presumably a PTC concern. Proctor and Gamble also produces three daytime dramas, the Young And The Restless, As The World Turns, and Guiding Light.
This past Friday, Erin of PTC Sucks.org shared the following response she received from Proctor and Gamble:
Thanks for sharing your comments about our decision to withdraw ads for CBS's Family Law rerun episodes. We did not sponsor these episodes of Family Law when they ran during the regular season, and we simply confirmed that decision when presented with the same episodes as re-runs. I'm sharing your message and comments with the entire Sponsorship Team.
I'd like to share how we review the programs we sponsor episode by episode, against a set of guidelines which are quite traditional with respect to family values.
These content guidelines define what we generally won't sponsor:
* We try not to sponsor programs in which wrongdoing goes unpunished
* We don't support shows that include gratuitous sex or violence unrelated to the fundamental story
* We don't sponsor programs that depict drug use as acceptable
* We do not advertise on storylines which we consider objectionable because of religious or ethnic defamation or other controversial subjects
Thank you for stopping by and letting us know how you feel.
USA P&G Team
So much for CBS/Viacom denials.
So P&G tries not to sponsor programming where "wrongdoing goes unpunished" or that uses "gratitous sex and violence"? One would gather they've never watched their own programs such as The Young And The Restless, As The World Turns, and Guiding Light. During the last week of these shows, they have run storylines that have included drug use, attempted murder, organized crime, and prostitution.
But here's the clincher in the letter: "We do not advertise on storylines which we consider objectionable [because of being a]... controversial subject".
Effectively, folks, that's an admission of selective censorship. Depicting attempted murder (by gun) on a daytime drama is apparently acceptable, but a storyline concerning gun control on a prime time drama is not.
I love corporate doublespeak like that. It reminds me of some of responses that we received during the PTC Marketplace campaign. Readers need to make decisions as to whether or not they wish to give their money to the products of a company that undertakes these actions.
Even if you don't watch "Family Law", remember that Proctor and Gamble also refuses to advertise on WWFE programming, using the same dubious criteria. The PTC also gives "Family Law" a "red light" for dealing with adult issues, even though the show is aired outside of the so-called "family hour", during which the PTC has claimed frequently that such content is acceptable.
Further, the PTC has used and applauded this Proctor and Gamble action in their latest E-Alert as an illustration of how corporate campaigns work to affect program content.
Here's a partial list of Proctor and Gamble products, for those who are interested:
Baby products: Luvs® diapers, Luvs Ultra Thicks baby wipes, Pampers® diapers, Pampers Baby Wipes, Bibsters Disposable Bibs
Cleaning products: Cascade®, Cascade Complete, Cascade Rinse Aid®, Dawn®, Ivory®, Joy®, Bounce®,Bounce ColorSmart, Downy®, Downy Premium Care®, Comet®, Mr. Clean®, Mr. Clean® Top Job®, Mr. Clean Wipe-ups, Bold®,Cheer®, Dreft®, Era®, Febreze Clean Wash, Gain®, Ivory Snow®, Tide®:
Foods: Sunny Delight®, Folgers® coffees, Jif®/Jif Smooth Sensations® peanut butter, Crisco® shortening, Pringles® potato crisps
Personal care: Tampax® sanitary products
If you'd like to offer your opinion to Proctor and Gamble on this matter, you can do so by snail mail/telephone at:
A. G. Lafley, President and CEO
Procter & Gamble Company
One Procter and Gamble Plaza
Cincinnati, OH 45202
You can also contact them online at this URL
If you'd like to express your concern to Viacom for allowing such blatant censorship of programming content, you can contact Viacom by snail mail/telephone at:
Sumner Redstone, CEO
New York, NY 10036
You can also do so via e-mail at email@example.com.
The same censorship employed on one show can be employed against another. More than a few people have argued that it has already happened indirectly, given that WWF programming has been toned down radically since the PTC started its efforts two years.
Even if you view the PTCs's actions as being covered under "freedom of speech", as Dave Meltzer has said on occasion; it can be reasonably said that a pattern of deliberate and continued lying about the facts of a situation is not considered "protected speech". Such is the case in the continued PTC maintenance of nine companies on its their "Good Guy" list that they are well aware have not removed advertising from WWFE programming.
The nine major companies falsely listed as "no longer advertising on WWF programming" haven't taken definite steps to mandate the removal of their corporate names from the so-called "Good Guys" list on the PTC website. It is, therefore, time for us to demand that they do it ourselves.
Further, its time to remind the PTC that we're well aware that they are deliberately using these corporate names in an inaccurate manner.
The PTC can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com. It can be reached via snail mail at: Parents Television Council, 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 and by telephone at (800) 882-6868 or via L. Brent Bozell's assistant Deborah Thomas at (703) 684-1699.
In each of these cases, please be sure to write, e-mail, or call only once in a polite and literate manner, using no profanity.
Make clear that you are aware that the information stated on their website and in printed materials regarding ConAgra, M&M/Mars, 1-800-CALL-ATT, 1-800-COLLECT, Pep Boys, Burger King, Ford Motor Company, Wrigley Gums, and the US Armed Forces is intentionally in error, and should be removed from their website immediately to avoid possible additional legal sanctions from the companies in question; or citation in the WWFE-PTC lawsuit.
You may also wish to contact the companies themselves and remind them that the PTC is using their corporate trademark, corporate logos, and other intellectual properties to publicize the PTC cause without permission from their company to do so.
Further, it's time to contact the webhost for the PTC, Special Systems.Net, and make them aware of the nature of the potentially defamatory comments on the PTC's website.
Ask Special Systems.Net whether or not these actions of the PTC constitute a TOS (Term of Service) violation. Point out the WWFE lawsuit against the PTC and Media Research Center to them...and that their company might possibly bear a legal responsibility if they knowingly carry libelous, slanderous or defamatory material on their servers.
You can contact:
Special Systems, Inc.
5033 Huntwood Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
Call at (703) 383-3900, by fax at (703) 383-9898, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In writing to Special Systems, Inc. as well, please be sure to write, e-mail, or call only once in a polite and literate manner, using no profanity.
Please forward any non-auto replies that you receive to WFAC.
The degree of the PTC's "Big Lie" campaign of failing to remove the names of these companies can be seen below with a sort of scoreboard for episodes of RAW, Smackdown, and Heat episodes that have featured advertisements, from January 1, 2001 to the present:
RAW 30/Smackdown 20/Heat 21
Sponsor of SummerSlam 2001
1 800 CALL ATT
RAW 24/Smackdown 3/Heat 7
RAW 29/Smackdown 4/Heat 19
Sponsor of Wrestlemania 2001 and King of the Ring 2001
RAW 21/Smackdown 1/Heat 1
US Army/Air National Guard/other military agencies
RAW 6/Smackdown 12
1-800-COLLECT (MCI World.com)
RAW 24/Smackdown 3/Heat 5
Ford Motor Company
RAW 4/Smackdown 4
When you see these companies advertising on WWFE programming, contact them and thank them for their sponsorship. Remind them again that their names are again being falsely used by the PTC as part of their propaganda campaign.
Suggest that the company (or their legal representative) sends a cease and desist letter to the PTC immediately, demanding their company's name be removed from any and all sections of the PTC website, and that a retraction be sent out in the next PTC E-Alert.
Here is their contact information:
M&M/Mars (Snickers, Starburst, Twix, and Uncle Ben's Rice)
800 High Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
Phone at (908) 852-1000, fax at (908) 850-2624 , or e-mail at Contact.Us@Mars.com
Wrigley (Wrigley Spearmint, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit, Orbit, Big Red, Freedent, and WinterFresh chewing gums)
Contact online here.
Contact through the feedback page or to through the AT&T feedback page
Office of the Chief of Public Affairs
1500 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-1500
ConAgra (Chef Boyardee, Slim Jim)
Corporate Communications/Media - Karen Savinski (402) 595-5392
You can also contact ConAgra online via their feedback page at this link.
Mr. Stefan Bomhard, Senior Vice President of Marketing
17777 Old Cutler Road
Miami, FL 33157
1-800-COLLECT (owned by MCI World.com)
Call Customer Service at (800) 444-3333 or contact 1-800-COLLECT through the feedback page.
Ford Motor Company
American readers can call (800) 392-3673/(800) 232-5952 (TDD) from 8:00 am-11:00 pm ET (Monday-Friday) or 8:00 am-6:00 pm ET (Saturdays); or can write them at: Ford Motor Company, Customer Relationship Center, P.O. Box 6248, Dearborn, MI 48126
Canadian readers can call (800) 565-3673 from 8:00 am-8:00 pm ET (Monday-Friday) or 9:00 am-6:00 pm ET (Saturdays); or can write them at:
Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited, Customer Relationship Centre,
P.O. Box 2000, Oakville, Ontario, L6J 5E4
UK readers can call Ford Motor Company at: 08457 111 888 or write them at: Ford Information Service, P.O. Box 25149, Glasgow, G2 4XF
Go to their customer relations form at this URL, or e-mail them at email@example.com .
It seems that at least AT&T is finally responding to use of their name in PTC advertisements.
At least two readers have received responses from AT&T from Katherine Haines, a Staff Manager of AT&T Marketing Communications, stating that "they WILL go and consult their legal council, if necessary".
Other readers should send notes to AT&T at the addresses located above, indicating the use of AT&T's intellectual property, the nature of the actions of the PTC during their campaign against WWFE programming (as well as other TV programming such as Boston Public); as well as the PTC's connections to extremist groups, and to the Unification Church.
If you receive a non-form response from these companies, please send us a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you who say that these columns are unrelated to wrestling, keep in mind that the toning down of the WWF product is directly related to the efforts of the PTC. In short, what they do has a material effect on the wrestling you watch Monday, Thursday, and Sunday nights.
Therefore, if you don't like a "toned down WWF product", don't just bitch and complain about it on wrestling newsgroups and message boards.
Do something about it.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)